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25 Free or Low Budget Christmas Activities  

Here are 25 free or low budget Christmas activities so that you don’t blow your budget and have all those major credit card regrets come January.

free or low budget christmas activities

There is no doubt that the holiday season is magical. From carols and cookies to festive twinkle lights it’s a special time of year. I absolutely love it!

But it can also be a really expensive time of year. To help me not go too crazy on the things that don’t matter, I try to focus my budget on gift giving and helping others. Then for all the fun festivities, I look for low cost ways for us to celebrate and take in the season as a family. This helps remind us of all that we have to be grateful. And as an added bonus makes sure that we don’t have to scrimp by through the rest of the winter. So here are 25 free or low budget ways that can help you appreciate the Christmas season.

25 Budget Friendly Christmas Activities

  1. Looking at Christmas Lights – Fill those travel mugs with hot cocoa and go for a drive to look at Christmas lights.
  2. Take in a Local Christmas Pageant – Almost every school, church or local community theater has some sort of affordable or free holiday performance. This can be a great way to support students and the arts!
  3. Family Movie Night – Ok we are movie buffs around here. There isn’t enough days in December to go through all our favorite Christmas movies. Rather we each right one down and put them in a jar. Then each Friday night pull out a movie title and pop that popcorn!
  4. Hot Chocolate Bar – Want to make a night in feel special? Make a hot chocolate bar! Fun marshmallows and candy canes make it feel luxurious to kids and their friends when it is truly so budget friendly!
  5. Go Caroling – Grab some candles or flashlights, agree on a few songs and head out in your neighborhood or local nursing home. Trust me, people will swoon, especially if you put the little ones out front.
  6. Host a White Elephant Party – Set a price limit (typically $10 and under) and host a fun white elephant gift exchange. See who gets the silliest present and take off all the pressure of fancy gift giving among friends. Even better, make it a potluck to keep the cost of hosting down.
  7. Volunteer as a Family – Find a place where you can volunteer as a family. There are many gift wrapping stations that need help, as well as food banks or kitchens.
  8. Make Christmas Ornaments – Do a craft with your kids. DIY ornaments like these cookie cutter or musical ornaments often use items you already have and are pretty easy.
  9. Bake Cookies – Of course cookie baking makes the list! Pop on some carols and get decorating!  Kids Eating Cookies
  10. Make a gingerbread house – Whether you make them from scratch or buy a low cost kit, decorating a gingerbread makes for a fun and easy night in.
  11. Go ice skating – Ice skating screams winter fun. Most towns have a pop-up rink for the holidays.
  12. Head to a nearby tree lighting – A great free event is a tree lighting. Most have festivities hosted by local businesses and a sighting by the big guy, Santa!
  13. Make your own wrapping paper – Using brown packaging is much more eco-friendly than using traditional wrapping paper. Make your own with stamps and ribbons for a homespun pretty look!
  14. Have a holiday dance party – Nothing beats rocking around the Christmas tree. Literally! Throw on those tunes and get moving!
  15. Visit Santa, you’re never too old! – Head to the nearest Santa and tell him what your wishing for this holiday season. Meg with Santa
  16. Go to a holiday festival – I love a holiday pop-up festival. Most feature artisans and just walking around exploring with a coffee feels merry.
  17. Themed game night – Grab some friends and have a themed game night. Holiday charades or Pictionary is a great and easy start.
  18. Make your own Christmas Cards – Get out the glue and glitter and let the kids make homemade Christmas cards for grandparents. Trust me there will be no greater gift than receiving these in the mail!
  19. Take in a nativity scene or church reenactment – Many churches have live nativity reenactments. These are free and a great way to show children first hand the Christmas story.
  20. Read Christmas Stories – Break out those books! Get cozy and dive in to Twas’ The Night Before Christmas. This is a cherished memory for so many!
  21. Make Magazine Trees or other fun décor – Get crafty with your décor. These magazine trees are really cute and will keep little ones busy.
  22. Pass out candy canes at the nursing home or hospital – The season can be lonely for so many. Dress up your little ones; buy some inexpensive candy canes and head to a nearby nursing home. Have them pass them out and make several elderly people’s day.
  23. Go to the garden center to check out the decorations – Most major garden centers go all out. From poinsettias, rows of trees to ornaments its fun to stop and look. Plus there are so many great photo ops!
  24. Find a train display – This is a time for train enthusiasts. Typically you can find a mega train display at the holidays. I know my boys can stare at them for hours and love seeing the little villages all decorated.
  25. Have a picnic by the Christmas Tree – Surprise the family and have a picnic next to the tree. Even sandwiches feel magical when eaten by twinkle light!

Mom and son by the Christmas Tree

These are just some free or low budget Christmas activities to help make the holiday season magical without blowing your holiday budget. What are some of your favorites?

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